As we roll down another great year of Magic, we will find card prices starting to bottom out. Modern PPTQ season has been over for a while and the demand for new Modern cards quickly falls with it. After Grand Prix Dallas last weekend, there won't be another Modern Grand Prix until February. After the Star City Games Open in Columbus next weekend, there won't be another Modern Open until Indianapolis at the end of February. Basically with all of the premier Modern tournaments drying up until after Pro Tour Aether Revolt, there will be a lot of time to get into to some cheaper cards. Let's take a look at what I'm expecting to be good buys.
I think it's fairly safe to say we won't be seeing a reprint of shocklands anytime soon. Most people already own their playsets, but if you don't, the bottom might finally be falling out of them. What is important to note is that the price of shocklands is finally starting to meet the actual demand rather than the perceived value of the card.
If you had to guess the most expensive shockland, what would you guess? Probably Steam Vents, right? Scalding Tarn is the most expensive fetch and Spirebluff Canal is the most expensive Kaladesh fast land. You're partially right—it's the most expensive from Return to Ravnica, but the Gatecrash shocks are by far the most expensive. I have some theories as to why, but the most important one is that the decks that play them are just cheaper generally.
Yep, Sacred Foundry is one of the most expensive shocks and shows no real chance of slowed growth. Burn and Zoo decks are generally less expensive than GB or UR decks and frequently play 3+ Sacred Foundry. The demand for this one is pretty high but if you see yourself playing an aggressive red deck in the future, you may want to pick up a few copies in December.
Stomping Ground has also basically bottomed out and will likely never be less than $10. It's played in Jund, Burn, Dredge, and every Valakut deck. The real key to this card's price is that Valakut decks almost always play 4, which is pretty unusual for a shock. Unless Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle becomes basically unplayable (which I don't see happening) it's unlikely to ever see a big decline.
Most of the rest of the shocks still might have a little bit to fall. If Infect remains very popular, it's possible that soon will be the best time to buy Breeding Pool. The cornerstone of a lot of the more expensive archetypes tends to be more fetches and fewer shocks. This causes the anemic price tag we see on Overgrown Tomb and Blood Crypt, despite the number of decks that actually play Blood Crypt.
If you're looking to spend the least possible on your Modern experience, don't forget this principle. Playsets of most shocks in Modern are effectively just 1-2 copies because there just isn't enough room in the mana bases for more in the world of Blood Moon. So while you may be tempted to quickly buy-it-now an eBay auction for 4x Overgrown Tomb, I can almost assure you that you will never sleeve up that many in one deck.
Fetches rotated out of Standard with the Release of Shadows over Innistrad, so they've really only had seven months to start their decline. That being said, they may become the cheapest they will ever be in the foreseeable future in December. Unlike shocks, fetches are a bit more expensive and played in much larger quantities. Khans of Tarkir sealed product is starting to creep up, which is pretty unusual given the recent history of sealed product. I think people don't quite realize how many fetches they need and every set that doesn't include a Zendikar fetch reprint adds to the stress on Khans of Tarkir fetches.
In order of importance, I think it depends on what archetype end up settling on. Some decks can play substitute fetches and it won't matter. Infect is one of the bigger ones because it can play Windswept Heath and Wooded Foothills instead of Misty Rainforest since they don't typically play a basic Island. Similarly, it doesn't really matter which Mountain fetchland you play in Valakut decks, Dredge, or Burn. Substitutes work worst in three-color decks like Jeskai and Jund, but those aren't very budget-friendly to begin with. While writing this I've basically convinced myself that you should probably steer clear of blue fetches because they are the lowest-impact unless you're playing Esper.
That being said, if you do play blue decks more often and have a few bucks left over, then I think blue Khans of Tarkir fetches are at a great price right now. When Rally was the most popular deck in Standard, the two blue fetches were the most expensive, despite the fact that they couldn't get all of your colors and were played in the same quantity as Windswept Heath. While there is an argument to be made that Heath was cheaper due to it being in a precon, the difference isn't explained by that alone. People just have a higher respect for Island fetches. You can see that from the price of Misty Rainforest, which is is rarely played in decks with both basic Island and basic Forest.
The Likely Foreclosures
I'm not a big fan of buying any of the lands from Time Spiral block (Grove of the Burnwillows, Horizon Canopy, River of Tears, etc.), which are expensive mostly because of their rarity. There is just too high of a chance we get one or all of those headlining Modern Masters 2017. If you're going to Grands Prix and need every edge you can get, you should be safe until the summer—but I think most players trying to buy into Modern will be better off spending their money elsewhere. Similarly, I think it would be comical for Wizards to pass up an easy opportunity to reprint Cavern of Souls in Modern Masters 2017.
Filter lands are kind of like a blessing in disguise. You don't often play them, but when you do it's rarely more than one. It helps to keep them relatively cheap as Shadowmoor and Eventide are two of the least-opened sets in Modern.
The allied-colored painlands are in a weird place. They've got names that make them hard to put into Standard (similar to the enemy-colored painlands, which were only reprinted in the last core set). I can't figure out a reason why Brushland can continue to be this expensive forever but I've been wrong before. Given the price of all of these lands I wouldn't put any of money into them until I was done with the rest of the deck first.
Modern Masters Reprints
Most of the cards that were reprinted in Modern Masters 2015 are unlikely to be reprinted again in Modern Masters 2017—as such you should look to get them at the end of the year. Comparing Modern Masters 2013 to Modern Masters 2015, only six rares or mythics were in both sets (Tarmogoyf, Vendilion Clique, Dark Confidant, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, Blinkmoth Nexus, and Cryptic Command). That being said, most of the cards you could have picked got a lot more expensive since then because the rest of their respective decks got cheaper. Arcbound Ravager and Glimmervoid got more expensive because Mox Opal, Cranial Plating, and Etched Champion fell in price. Coincidentally, the same thing happened when Tarmogoyf and Dark Confidant got reprinted again, causing Blackcleave Cliffs and Raging Ravine to jump in price.
This Modern Masters set will almost certainly include Snapcaster Mage and Liliana of the Veil, so some thought must be given to the decks that use them most proficiently. Maybe for you that's Jeskai Nahiri or Abzan, but you should take a good look at cards that are the newest from those decks and acquire them sooner rather than later. At this point I think Nahiri, the Harbinger might be one of the best cards you could buy as a Modern control player. She's available on TCGPlayer for $14 now, only a few dollars from her lowest ever. That Jeskai deck is really only a Snapcaster Mage, Celestial Colonnade, and Scalding Tarn reprint away from being extremely affordable.
Next Year's Promos
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn is the RPTQ promo for all of next year. We know that doesn't inject a ton of supply into the market, but from I've heard the art is a big hit, so it should be about as expensive as the Snapcaster Mage promo. Now I'm not going to judge you if you're playing Nahiri and don't own one of these... No, I lied, I'll probably judge you. I think this is a great new art and I'm glad Emrakul hasn't been unseated as the biggest villain of them all.
Progenitus is the Grand Prix promo for next year. I'm not really sure why this was chosen, but I have to assume people will run out of uses for ten-mana 10/10s very quickly. Both promos are numbered 1 out of 1, so it's unlikely we will get a different promo halfway through the year (as used to be custom with GP Promos). If you go to any of the Grands Prix at the beginning of this distribution period (starting in December with GP Denver), I'd make sure to sell your copy quickly. Griselbrand and Stoneforge Mystic still haven't recovered from their price drops, and Progenitus is starting out a lot lower.
Checking In on Some Reprints
- Inquisition of Kozilek. It seems possible that a lot more people skipped Conspiracy: Take the Crown than we expected. There were a ton of products released this year and it's impossible to buy them all. That being said, Inquisition isn't really taking the dip I was expecting. If they stays steady at $9 through December, you may want to jump on them before they have a chance to start climbing.
- Serum Visions. This card is in the same boat. It's luckily a reprint and not a new card like the increasingly expensive Leovold, Emissary of Trest. Stores are paying $1.25 for copies of this card, so I can't imagine it can realistically make it down to $2 per copy. If it stays steady at $3 in December, you may want to just bite the bullet before it climbs.
- Aether Hub. It's not technically a reprint, but it's functionally the same as Tendo Ice Bridge. If you want a few just for safe keeping, you should probably wait until it rotates out of Standard or buy it during December. There will likely be more energy cards that increase its already high usefulness in Standard. It could pop back up to a $3-4 uncommon after Pro Tour Aether Revolt.
- Modern Commander reprints: Scavenging Ooze, Past in Flames, Boros Charm, Beast Within, Terminate, Reveillark, Murmuring Bosk, Master of Etherium, Karplusan Forest, Ghostly Prison, Thopter Foundry. None of these are really hits out of the park but you may be able to find some people on Friday who don't need everything in the deck to trade for some. Some of the more expensive cards like Past in Flames and Scavenging Ooze will probably drop a dollar or two over the next few months. Wizards was careful not to include too many good reprints that would draw non-Commander players to the boxes.
Hype Train Off the Rails
It's sweet that Skred Red won the Grand Prix last weekend, and a bunch of self-proclaimed savvy speculators bought out Snow-Covered Mountain and Scrying Sheets, and started to make a dent in Koth of the Hammer. I'm not a big fan of Skred Red because of how it needs to get favorable matchups to win. But if you're looking to play it anyway, just wait for the price increases to subside. Most of the people buying right now aren't looking to keep any of the cards. They'll get more desperate to unload in a few months and then you can get the stuff closer to what it was before it spiked.
Keep or Mull?
I want to start something new to end my article each week. I'm pretty proficient with Burn and I know what I would do, but what would you do? Would you keep or mulligan this hand? I'd like this to drive some interesting discussion, so keep the criticism constructive! Next week I'll start with my answer and my reasoning.